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What are ACEs? How You Can Prevent Them and #BeThe3 for Others.

This post is made possible with support from the American Academy of Pediatrics through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All opinions are my own.

Growing up and aging out of the foster care system, it was critical that I had caring adult mentors and organizations available to check on me, support me, provide access to opportunities, and help me see beyond my situation.

I have spent a lot of this pandemic thinking about my childhood, comparing my children’s experiences to my own, and wondering how I would have survived 2020 had I faced some of the same obstacles we are seeing today.

The short answer: I don’t think I would have made it.

I recently learned about an ACEs quiz from another blogger on instagram and got curious about my own number and how my childhood has shaped my adult experiences, so I decided to take the quiz that helps you reflect on your upbringing while identifying ACEs and giving you a related score.

I scored a 6/10.

The higher your score is likely to be, the higher your risk for later health problems. Even a score of 2 can increase a person’s risk of facing a lifetime of issues, if they don’t have a strong support system to bounce back .

What are ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences)?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood.

The 10 ACEs fall into 3 categories:

  1. Abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual);

  2. Neglect (physical or emotional); and

  3. Household dysfunction (mental illness, domestic violence, divorce, incarcerated relative, substance abuse).

How Do You Prevent ACEs?

ACEs can be prevented or mitigated when adults and children have strong support systems and relationships through individuals or organizations.

If it were not for the caring relationships outside of my home or afterschool programs that raised me, provided experiences and access to different ways of living, I would not be who I am today.

Below, a picture of two women who have been a part of my life since I was 14-years old and who have made a HUGE difference in who I am today. One picture of two people, who represent so many who have had a hand in making sure I "made it" and was a success.

With a full-blown global pandemic, among so many other stressors of 2020—job loss, racial injustice, remote learning—people are feeling the pressure, and it's more important than ever to look out for one another and that is why it is so important to #findyour3.

Who are the three sources of support who are going to help you through the tough times AND who will you “be the 3" to?

I’ve teamed up on the ACE’s project with the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control to help bring awareness and to ask you…

“How will you ‘be the three’ this holiday season and help build safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments?”

I plan to check in on my friends and family who are going through hard times and offer support in any way I can. The girls and I will make homemade Christmas cards and take them to people who live alone or are shut-in and might be feeling especially lonely this year.

We also plan to support several foster families and initiatives that support children and give gifts this season so that kids their age can have an amazing Christmas, too. We are going to be committed to letting people we know that we want to be a part of their support system.

So let’s do this. Let’s show up for our communities and Be The Three.

To learn more about ACEs, and how to walk through this particular precarious season, check out the article(s) below:

It takes all of us to make a difference.

With strength, courage and wisdom,


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